Tuesday, January 08, 2013

A daily tomato pill to cut heart attacks: Drug 'boosts blood flow and artery health'

This lycopene story has been around for a while now.  Only so far tested for a short period on a small group of elderly patients who have already had heart attacks.  May not generalize

No one would much like the idea of eating 6lb of tomatoes a day.   But if their goodness was popped in an easy-to-swallow pill that you were told might prevent strokes and heart attacks you would probably be putting in an order tomorrow.

Researchers believe they may have come up with just that after trials on the supplement Ateronon.

The daily pill contains a chemical called lycopene which makes tomatoes red and is known to break down fatty deposits in the arteries.

A Cambridge University study found taking the capsule boosted blood flow and improved the lining of vessels in patients with pre-existing heart conditions. It also increased the flexibility of their arteries by 50 per cent.

The scientists believe it could limit the damage caused by heart disease – responsible for 180,000 deaths a year – and help cut the 49,000 deaths a year from strokes.

They also hope it could benefit those with arthritis, diabetes and even slow the progress of cancer.

Each pill provides the equivalent of eating around 6lb of ripe tomatoes.

Studies have shown eating a Mediterranean-style diet rich in tomatoes, fish, vegetables, nuts and olive oil can significantly reduce cholesterol and help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Preliminary results from a two-month trial, in which the pill was given to 36 heart disease patients and 36 healthy volunteers with an average age of 67, were presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association.

It was shown to improve the function of the endothelium – the layer of cells lining blood vessels. It also boosted their sensitivity to nitric oxide, the gas which triggers the dilation of the arteries in response to exercise.

Ian Wilkinson, of Cambridge University’s clinical trials unit, said: ‘These results are potentially very significant, but we need more trials to see if they translate into fewer heart attacks and strokes.’

Peter Kirkpatrick, a leading neurosurgeon and medical adviser to CamNutra, which has developed Ateronon, said: ‘It is too early to come to firm conclusions, but the results from this trial are far better than anything we could have hoped for.’

Further studies are planned, with researchers hoping it could offer an alternative to statins for heart disease sufferers who cannot take the cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Mike Knapton, of the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘Although this showed lycopene improved blood flow in people with heart disease, that’s a long way from demonstrating that taking it could improve outcomes for people with heart disease.

The best way to get the benefits of a Mediterranean diet is to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.’


How Government Makes Us Fatter

The government, with its accomplices in the food lobby, has helped to make and keep us fat. Through subsidies and misguided food suggestions, Congress, the FDA, and the USDA have made it more difficult for Americans to make smarter dietary decisions.

It’s not as if we don’t care. Americans spend $33 billion annually on weight loss products and services. At any given time, 45 percent of women and 30 percent of men in the United States are trying to lose weight. And yet Americans are more out of shape than ever.

Obesity is a major health risk in the United States, where 65 percent of adults are overweight. The prevalence of obesity rose from 14.5 percent in 1980 to 30.5 percent today. The percentage of children who are overweight is at an all-time high: 10.4 percent of two- to five-year-olds, 15.3 percent of six- to 11-year-olds, and 15.5 percent of 12-to-19-year-olds.


Remember the food pyramid? In 1982, government authorities told Americans to reduce fat consumption from 40 percent to 30 percent of daily intake—and we took their advice. Instead of fats, Americans began eating more carbohydrates: an increase of 57 grams per person from 1989 to today, according to UCSF Professor of Pediatrics Dr. Robert Lustig. Today, the typical American diet is about 50 percent carbohydrate, 15 percent protein, and 35 percent fat.

At the same time, a committee at the Food and Drug Administration awarded sugar “Generally Recognized As Safe” status—even for diabetics—despite internal dissent from the USDA’s Carbohydrate Nutrition Laboratory. As part of the 2011 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, Congress legislated that pizza sauce can count as a vegetable in school lunches.

Setting aside the issue of whether such government recommendations are correct, its actions as food nanny essentially absolve Americans from the responsibility of making their own nutrition decisions. In the 1990s, American women blindly gobbled up low-fat Snackwells desserts masquerading as sensible treats. After all, Snackwells cookies met government standards: they were low in fat and contained “safe” sugar. Parents send their kids to school assuming school lunch contains healthy fruits and vegetables—never stopping to ask what their kids are actually eating each day.

Government recommendations also dissuade private nutrition groups from attempting to compete with “official” advice. Consider Dr. Atkins’ critical reception when he wrote Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution; although a best-seller, it was panned by the nutrition establishment. The USDA’s Agricultural Resource Service still warns that the diet started out as a “gimmick” and hedges on whether it’s ultimately “worthwhile or worthless.”

Over the years, government recommendations have contributed to the replacement of lard with trans-fats (the latter of which are now considered deadly), the substitution of butter for margarine and back to butter again, and conflicting recommendations about eggs, orange juice, vitamins, certain types of fish, and the temperature at which it’s safe to eat meat. Is it any wonder that Americans are no closer to their health goals?


Farm subsidies reinforce the government’s recommendations. Most go to just a few crops: soy, corn, rice, and wheat—all of which can be converted into cheap, highly processed foods.

Take the case of corn. Starting in the mid-1980s, government subsidies made corn profitable for farmers even when market prices for corn were low. So farms across the Midwest began to produce it in abundance. Food companies funneled this cheap corn into the production of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as a replacement for more-expensive sugar—the price of which had been artificially sweetened by tariffs, import quotas and subsidies meant to shut cheaper foreign suppliers out of the U.S.

HFCS then made its way into previously unsweetened foods, including bread, baked goods, cereal, condiments, canned vegetables, pasta sauce, and even “nutrition” bars. Today, the average American eats 41.5 pounds of HFCS per year—financed by U.S. corn subsidies. That’s in addition to the 29 pounds of traditional sugar the USDA reports we eat on average.

Wheat, rice, and soy are turned into similarly processed food products. Wheat is extruded, robbing it of its protein, or milled and bleached into mineral-free white flour. Rice is stripped of its vitamin-packed bran to make it cook quicker. Soybeans are mashed, pulped, extruded, and pressed into thousands of products.

And government subsidies make these foods very, very cheap—much cheaper than unsubsidized raw produce, fish, or meat. Naturally, Americans respond to these low prices by buying in bulk. Today, 23 percent of Americans’ grocery budgets go to processed foods and sweets (compared to 12 percent in 1982).

Getting Government Out of the Grocery Aisles

Nutrition is far from settled science. Various researchers recommend low-carb, vegetarian, vegan, “whole” food, or simple calorie-counting diets as the route to weight loss and improved health. But one thing is clear: government interference is steering us in the wrong direction—toward sweetened and processed foods that no doctors, nutritionists, or researchers recommend. To improve the “Standard American Diet,” the first thing government can do is get out of the way.


No comments: